In-Box Review
U.S. Tank Destroyer M-36 GMC

by: Martin Dogger [ MARTINEZ ]


A logical follow-up to Academy’s M10 GMC series, this is a kit of the 90mm M-36. It shares a lot of parts with the older kits, but there’s a new sprue providing the new turret, hull front plate and rear engine details.

kit contents

Total number of plastic parts is 625, plus twine for the tow cable, flexible tracks and a decal sheet. As the kit is based on the earlier M10 kits, you can build both the gasoline powered M36 and the M36B2 with diesel engine using the parts in the box. The third M36 variant, the B1, used the turret on a standard M4A3 hull. The turret from the kit could be used on a stock M4A3 hull, and the left over hull converted into a M35 prime mover, but that another story.

What’s in the box?
Back to the kit, and we’ll start at the suspension. This is quite and is the nicest plastic suspension available from a kit. You’re provided with several options. Drive sprockets are the simple plate sprockets, or the revised fancy sprockets. Road wheels are either the stamped or spoked version, both with excellent details and the stamped wheels come with rear inserts for detail on both sides. This is also the case with the idlers, again you have the choice between stamped and spoked. Suspension bogies are the heavy duty VVSS with flat return roller arm and spacer, and casting numbers are included.

You have a choice of the earliest, round track skid or the more familiar skid, which leans toward the front of the vehicle. For a late vehicle like the M36, the later skid seems the only option.

The skids are molded separately thus making clean up and filling of the joint on the top of the bogie quite easy, and some thinning will improve the appearance. More detail can be added by adding the bolts to the skids, and drilling four mounting holes on the front of the bogie. These bogies were interchangeable and the return roller arm could be mounted on both sides of the bogie.
There are two choices for the transmission cover. Are the one-piece cover, one sharp nosed and the other more rounded.

The lower hull has quite a complete interior included: gearbox, driver’s seats, steering levers, foot pedals and instrument panel. The fighting compartment has the lower floor included, together with a firewall and the sponson mounted ammunition. This isn’t correct, as it shows the layout as used on the M10. Nevertheless, it would be hard to notice and at least there’s something back there to look at. The engine compartment gets side wall and fuel tank, but no engine. That’s a pity because the engine doors are separate parts. As said, you get parts for M36 and M36B2. The instructions have you build a M36, with M4A3 pattern rear plate and engine doors, but as the upper hull is the same as in the M10 kits with all the bits needed in the kit, and B2 is a simple option. Another option would be to use these parts to update Italeri M4 Marines. This is supposed to be an M4A2 but it does not provide the correct rear plate details and exhaust arrangement. These are covered with a wading trunk so not necessarily visible but when not using the trunks, you’ll need to add those details.

The hatches in the M36 kit are quite nice, with separate periscopes and handles. These are mounted onto a one-piece upper hull, together with the front plate. Here’s an odd option, as Academy gives us a front plate with .30 cal bow MG. As far as I know, this is not correct for WW2 vehicles, so probably it’s a French fitting. Anyone who can clarify this, please contact the webmaster. Rest of the hull construction is fairly typical for US vehicles. Details included are quite nice, but the headlight guards could use some thinning down, the tools need attachment straps and the rear exhaust deflector is a bit thick but nothing beyond the capabilities of the average modeler.

The turret is quite busy and has nice details included. Again, small detail could be improved as there’s no wiring included. The gun assembly is much better than the one in Italeri’s M36B1, and the turret basket has the correct layout. You get three barrels. You get a barrel with thread protector without muzzle break, the late war double baffle muzzle break, or the post-war single baffle muzzle break with bore evacuator. Sadly, the barrel with threaded end is not provided.

The bits on the turret rear for stowing the .50 cal are good. Easier to attach than PE, and using a sharp scalpel and files can look just as good. Turret roof armor is an option, but Academy gives the folding flaps as one big part. There should be three segments actually. Cut between hinges two and three, and four and five. Usually, the middle section was left shut. For the rear MG mounting, you can choose between .30 and .50 cal. In the field, M36s often had the .50 cal moved from the awkward bustle position to the left front of the turret opening, or they supplemented firepower with .30 cal MGs.

You get four options for markings and all are painted in olive drab. One; US vehicle used in Korea, no name and simple markings consisting of registration number and white stars. Two; French vehicle used in Indochina 1953, “Puma”, with the elaborate marking on the turret. Three; US vehicle used in Germany 1945, “Pork Chop”, registration number and white stars. Four; US vehicle used in France 1944 by 705th TD battalion, registration number and stars.

Overall, this is a good kit. There are a lot of parts, resulting in a nicely filled Sherman bits box, and the quality of detail and molding is good. Of course, there’s room for improvement but OOTB, you get a nice model of the M36.

If you want to use detail sets, there are several manufacturers out there. Here’s a small list:
- Formations have a barrel set. Kit F038 gives you a smooth taper barrel, and a barrel with threaded end and thread protector
- Eduard has two sets for both interior and exterior. 35664 deals with the interior while 35671 gives you parts for the exterior.
- Royal Models have no less than three sets, plus a ‘generic’ M10 engine set, 362. Set 355 has four sets of photo etch plus some resin bits. The other two sets are for the turret roof armor. 382 has just the armor plates, whereas 392 includes two .30 cal MGs as well. The latter is geared toward the RBCEO version, as the MGs have armored shields included and these aren’t commonly seen on WW2 vehicles.
- Verlinden Productions have a set which gives you an engine, several resin bits and photo etch. Catalogue number is 2111.

Note: this reviews has been written with the help of Tim Streeter, for which I'm grateful.
An M36 90mm GMC has been on the wishlist of many modellers of allied vehicles for years. Academy announced their version when their M12 first came out, but it took several year to finally hit the shelves. Now we can have a look at the kit,
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 1395
  PUBLISHED: Apr 03, 2005
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Martin Dogger (Martinez)

27 years old, from The Netherlands. I have been modelling since I was ten. I like doing the research and hunting down kits and aftermarket sets. Main interest is Allied WW2, with Shermans and variants in particular.

Copyright ©2021 text by Martin Dogger [ MARTINEZ ]. All rights reserved.


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